With twelve back-to-back world premieres in 17 days, San Francisco Ballet presents Unbound: A Festival of New Works beginning this Friday. It’s a snapshot of where dance is right now, and where it’s going, with works by a diverse group of top choreographers and imaginations. Principal dancer Ulrik Birkkjaer is taking part in four ballets, which served as his introduction to the company.
There’s more information about the festival at the San Francisco Ballet website.
“There’s twelve new ballets, and the company got divided into three groups,” Birkkjaer says. “So we were basically three small companies. And my group worked with four choreographers. And that’s how I’m part of four ballets.” It was the very first project that he worked on when he began with the company last July. “It started out with a new creation for the Unbound Festival. Actually two months of new creations. So as a new dancer here, that’s the best possible way to start. Because you’re not filling out any old shoes, you’re making new shoes. And that’s just an amazing way to create your own spot in a company.” The twelve choreographers are Alonzo King, Christopher Wheeldon, Justin Peck, Myles Thatcher, Cathy Marson, David Dawson, Stanton Welch, Trey McIntyre, Annabelle Lopez Ochoa, Edwaard Liang, Dwight Rhoden, and Arthur Pita. Birkkjaer says all the pieces reflect the personalities of the choreographers. “I’m involved in a Bjork ballet… another one is about human evolvement, like from how we interact when we’re kids through midlife, to old age. Another one follows a novel, Ethan Frome, and the fourth one is more like abstract, emotion, I would say. So they’re all very different… These 12 choreographers are some of the best in the world, but I didn’t know three of them, I hadn’t worked with three of them before. So you’re not only having to create a piece in a very short amount of time, you also have to get into their, who are they, what do they want, like, what do they want to express? They also have to get to know you.”